Post-season interview with Southwestern Central School (NY) Head Coach Jake Burkholder


Well-known member
Yes, I have watched this school play. Three times overall if memory serves and they have won all of those games.

Name: Jake Burkholder

School: Southwestern Central School

Position: Head Coach

Heading into the 2022 season, what were your biggest concerns?
Heading into the 2022 season, the biggest question or concern that we had was replacing our graduating seniors from the class of 2022. We had a great group of seniors that were paramount to our success, and finding the right guys to fill those vacancies was going to be tough. Granted, this is a concern every year, but it never gets easier.

After all the practices leading up to the first game of the season, which player or players stuck out the most? Explain.
We had a few guys that really stood out to us last year after camp. One was Owen Hayes, a sophomore quarterback. He really took pride in mastering the offense, and although he did not end up starting the first few games of the year, he was able to grow into our starting quarterback. Another was Chris Miller. We moved Chris from DB to DE, and he embraced it and did an amazing job. He was key in making our defense successful.

What will you remember most about the class of 2023?
The class of 2023 was just a great group of guys. They bought in, they worked their tails off, and most importantly, they set a great example for future Trojans. This was the largest group of seniors (14) that we have had at Southwestern in my tenure, and they have all left their mark on this program and will be missed!

What was the most challenging part of the 2022 season?
One of the most challenging parts of the 2022 season was the tough stretch of games right in the middle of our schedule. C-South is typically pretty tough all the way through; there is never a "week off," for lack of a better term. We had quite a stretch of games with Salamanca, Fredonia, and Allegany-Limestone from weeks 5–7. We embrace the toughness of our league and love the rivalry-type atmosphere that our league brings week in and week out.

What were the high and low points of the season?
It would be difficult to point out specific high points and low points, but a great example of how you can experience a little bit of everything in one football game would be our game against Fredonia this year. We really played poorly in the first half and fell into a 21-point hole. In the second half, we came out, played "Trojan Tough," and were able to take the game into overtime. Unfortunately, we were not able to pull out the victory in overtime, but I think that game really helped to build some mental toughness for our guys and helped them realize that even when things look pretty bleak, sticking to the game plan and believing in your abilities can get you right back into a position to be successful. There are highs and lows throughout each week, but that game is one that sticks out to me the most as a great example of experiencing them both in a very short time span.

Which team in 2022 was the toughest to prepare for? Why?
The toughest team to prepare for was the Iroquois. One, because it is the first game of the year and you are still working out some kinks and finding out who is ready to go when "live fire" starts. Secondly, they had a heck of a team the previous year and had lost several key players to graduation, so there were the unknown aspects of who was going to step up and be the "dude" for them and what new wrinkles they had put in since the previous year.

Who was the best player Southwestern faced last season, and which team did he play for?
We faced quite a few great players last year, but the guy who gave us the most problems was probably Trevor Barry from Iroquois. He runs hard, is physical, and is a very solid player who gave us fits.

What is the best part of coaching football at Southwestern?
There are a lot of great parts about coaching at Southwestern. Being part of the strong Southwestern tradition, having the opportunity to work with a great group of kids every year, and most importantly, the amazing support that we get from the school and local community There is something special about being a part of the Trojan football family.

What were the two or three main goals you set for the 2022 team? Also, did they hit those goals?
We set goals for the season but break those down into much smaller per-game goals and focus on chipping away at those. Typically, if we are able to meet our game goals, we come out on top, but there are always outliers where something goofy happens and we meet all of our game goals and still come out on the losing end. Some of our game goals are things like holding our opponents to less than 50 yards rushing, scoring 1 defensive TD, not turning the ball over, etc. Nothing too crazy, but it gives us something to focus on in the short term.

Can you tell us which seniors from last season will be moving on to play college ball and list the colleges too?
From our 2023 seniors, Paul Hayes (MLB, C, and L) will be continuing his football career at my alma mater, Washington & Jefferson College. Colton Holbrook (LB) is looking to continue his career at Buffalo State. We have several other guys who will be continuing their athletic careers in other sports as well.